A slice of pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream on a plate next to a fork.

Mmmm, so good–just remember, everything in moderation!

It’s that time of year again and we’ll be stuffing ourselves with Grandma’s mashed potatoes, Mom’s pumpkin pie, and Dad’s prized turkey that he swears is his best one yet. We all know the holidays are a hard time on our stomachs, because let’s be honest, we can’t get enough of that delicious home-cooked food.

Typically, the average American consumes approximately 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat during a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and that’s not including breakfast, lunch or the snacks along the way. Also, studies show most Americans gain 1 to 2 pounds during the holidays.

The reality is nobody wants to be diet conscious with all of their favorite foods around. I mean, I love jellied cranberry and gravy, but I don’t want to pack on the pounds because I ate four full plates of food. So I was curious what I could do to eat a little healthy on the holidays and this is what I found:

  • Remember to eat vegetables.
    This was not encouraging because I’m not a veggie lover, but veggies are low calorie and you can eat a lot of them. They can help curb your appetite and instead of multiple servings of mashed potatoes maybe you’ll only have two.
  • Don’t forget to eat.
    One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting all day to eat a whole lot of food (I do this one too). It’s almost exciting to feel yourself ready to stuff yourself, but causes your metabolism to slow down and you’re probably going to over indulge when the time comes.
  • Take the focus off of the food.
    I think sometimes we forget that Thanksgiving is about being thankful for what we’ve been given in life, our families, friends and yes, the food too, but that’s not the main focus. Play with younger members of your family, or get your whole family to play board games like Monopoly. These activities not only take the focus of food, but also bring your family even closer together on this holiday.
  • Make simple swaps.
    This tip  is my personal favorite by far as its the easiest way to cut some calories and still eat delicious home cooked Thanksgiving food. Instead of mashed potatoes, try sweet mashed potatoes; they’re delicious and still extremely satisfying. Try adding more veggies to your plate instead of heaping on the bread stuffing. Make a pumpkin pie without the crust and use skim milk and egg whites to make a healthy version with the same great taste.

Honestly, even if you don’t want to substitute your foods or eat more veggies, just remember to indulge but not stuff yourself full. We all want to fit in our pants the day after Thanksgiving, and the slice of pumpkin pie with delicious whipped cream isn’t going to kill you.

Be safe and have a tasty Thanksgiving!

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Cassandra Tokach

Cassandra graduated in 2014 with a BA in English. She is from Savage, MN and her hobbies include reading, journaling, enjoying nature and being active outdoors.

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